Bora-Bora is the island group found in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and South America. It is part of the region of French Polynesia, which is a country incorporated into France and comprised of 118 different atolls and islands. Bora-Bora is found within the Leeward island group of French Polynesia, and it comprises around 30.5 km² or 12 mi.² of territory.
French Polynesia And Bora Bora
French Polynesia is part of the French Republic and it is made out of over 100 different islands and atolls running over 2000 km across the South Pacific Ocean. French Polynesia has a total land area of approximately 4167 km² or 1609 mi.².
It is thought that the French Polynesia region was settled during the great Polynesian migration that happened around 1500 BCE when Austronesian people spread out across the South Pacific Ocean. During the 18th century, France would make various regions of Polynesia their territory, and in 1946 Polynesians were given French citizenship. The French government has gradually given French Polynesia more autonomy and the self-governance over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. France passed statues granting French Polynesia aspects of self-governance in the year 1977, and the territory became autonomous in 1984. 2003 saw France change its relationship with French Polynesia from an overseas territory to an overseas collectivity, and 2004 saw France give French Polynesia even more autonomy.
French Polynesia is divided into five different island groups. The Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Society Islands archipelago.
The Marquesas Islands is comprised of one atoll and 12 high islands, while the Tuamotu Archipelago is made out of over 80 tools and over 3000 different islands. The Gambier Islands are made of two atolls, the Austral Islands is made of 5 atolls and the Bass Islands is made of 2 atolls.
The Society Islands archipelago is itself divided into two different groups, the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands. The Windward Islands subdivision is comprised of five islands, while the Leeward Islands district is made out of five atolls. It is the Leeward Islands that is home to Bora Bora.
Archaeological evidence implies that the Marquesas Islands were settled around 200 BCE by a population coming from Polynesia’s western region. Other population dispersals would occur over the next millennium, with Polynesians migrating from the Marquesas Islands to Hawaii in approximately 300 CE and arriving in the Society Islands sometime during the ninth century. The island groups of Raiatea, Bora-Bora and Tahiti would see powerful cheiftanships be established on them. European contact with the islands in French Polynesia happened fairly gradually, beginning the with the sighting of Puka Puka atoll in 1521 by Fernanda Magellan. Contact occurred with the southern Marquesas islands at the end of the 1500s, while the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen sighted Makatea around 1722.
The largest and most populated island in French Polynesia is Tahiti, and the highest point in French Polynesia is Mount Orohena. French Polynesia is home to many active and extinct volcanoes such as the Bora-Bora volcano, Mac Donald, Mehetia, and Moorea.
French Polynesia’s currency is the Franc, which has a set exchange rate with the Euro. In 2014, the gross domestic product of French Polynesia was around US$5.62 billion. This places French Polynesia as the sixth-largest Oceania economy coming in after Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea.
French Polynesia had a GDP of approximately 20,098 per capita. The economy of French Polynesia is dependent mainly on tourism and financial assistance from the rest of France. French Polynesia’s exports include vanilla, black Tahitian pearls, and noni juice. Though the seafloor through the French Polynesia region contains large deposits of copper, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, these resources are not exploited.
Transportation between islands and French Polynesia is handled largely by air travel, and there are 53 airports in French Polynesia, 46 of these airports being paved. Beyond this, the merchant Marine sector French Polynesia has contains large cargo ships with a capacity totaling 17,537 GT/15,150 tonnes.
Information About Bora-Bora
As previously stated, Bora-Bora is found in the society islands of French Polynesia. The main island of Bora-Bora is found approximately 143 miles or 230 km north west of the city of Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia.
A barrier reef and lagoon are found surrounding Bora-Bora. Bora-Bora sits on the remains of an extinct volcano, and the extinct volcano gave rise to two different peaks, the mountains of Otemanu and Pahia. Vaitape is the primary settlement in Bora-Bora, and it is found on the western portion of the main island.
During the course of the second world war, Bora-Bora was utilized by the United States as a military supply base in the South Pacific. The United States had many defensive fortifications, and an airstrip, seaplane base, and oil located on the island. This military base maintained nine ships and around 7,000 soldiers.
The economy of Bora-Bora is supported almost exclusively by tourism. There are several different resorts found on the main island and in the surrounding area. Hotel Bora Bora was the first major resort destination and sometime later bungalows were built out on a lagoon. Most of the resorts in Bora Bora now have over-water bungalows. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and other water-related activities are the most popular things to do in Bora Bora. However, there are also dives to see rays and sharks.
In terms of marine life, sea turtles and crabs can be found on the island, and the occasional dolphins or humpback whales can be found in the waters surrounding the island. The waters running around Bora-Bora are home to many, diverse species of fish, an estimated total of over 500 different species. Bora Bora is home to a diverse number of gastropod lifeforms. Such as Samoana attentuata, and Mautodontha boraborensis. Unfortunately, climate change has threatened many of these unique species.
There are very few species of mammals on the island of Bora-Bora, however, there is a large dog population on the island, the descendants of dogs brought over by early settlers. Most of the dogs don’t have owners, but they managed to exist peacefully with the inhabitants of the island. A vast number of exotic birds can be found on the island, and the government of Polynesia has placed protections on the birds to ensure their survival.
Bora-Bora is home to a mangrove ecosystem, found along the coasts of the island which supports a varied array of life. The mangrove forest in Bora-Bora is comprised of Acrostichum aureum, mangroves which can reach 3 m in height. These mangroves are found in other portions of French Polynesia as well, like other portions of the Society Islands and Tahiti. It is thought that these mangrove trees were introduced from elsewhere in the Pacific, and not likely to be native to the islands of French Polynesia.
In terms of Bora Bora’s climate, most of the rain that the island region gets happens between November to April, the summer months for the region. There is a high humidity level during this time period. The months of December, January and February see the most precipitation on average.
Interesting Facts About Bora Bora
It is thought that the island of Bora-Bora was formed approximately 4 million years ago by a volcanic eruption. The island remained uninhabited until settlers from the Isle of Tonga came, and this original group of settlers are believed to be the first people to set foot on the island. At that time, the island had of the name Vava’u.
As the island was eventually settled by Tahitian people, the island came to be called Pora Pora. Since there are ambiguities between the sounds “B” and “P” in the Tahitian language, when English settlers later arrived on the island they mistook the name Pora Pora for Bora Bora, and the island has maintained of his name since.
The English explorer that encountered the island Bora Bora was Capt. James Cook, who made contact with the island in 1769. The English started missionary expeditions there, in an attempt to convert Polynesians to Christianity.